Conservation Society to Honor Historic Preservation in the Written Word


For nearly 70 years, the San Antonio Conservation Society has encouraged the publication of works that document Texas history and culture in ways that both educate and inspire.  This year, books exploring art, architecture and craftsmanship will share the stage with stories of small-town aspirations and innovations that have transformed our city, state and way of life.  From prehistoric murals to midcentury mosaics, vanishing crafts, architectural gems, and the human struggle to shape the environment, the San Antonio Conservation Society’s 2019 Publication Awards have something of interest for everyone.

The winning authors for 2019 will be honored at a luncheon, book signing and award presentation ceremony on Friday, March 29, 2019 in the Crystal Ballroom of the Sheraton Gunter Hotel at ‎205 East Houston Street, in downtown San Antonio.   The public is invited to the event, which will open at 10:30 a.m. with a short reception where attendees can meet the authors, buy books and have them signed. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by the award ceremony from 12 noon to 12:30.  Book signings will continue after the award ceremony until 1 p.m. 

Reservations are $55 per person; tables of ten are available for $550.  Seating is limited.  Reservations and payment must be received by Thursday, March 21 by registering online at or mailing a check to the Society headquarters at 107 King William, San Antonio, 78204.  For more information on the awards or the luncheon, the public should call the Conservation Society at 210-224-6163.

Award-Winning Books/Authors:

1.  Book:  Building Arts of South Texas: Stories of Endangered Buildings Arts & the
Craftsmen Who Keep Them Alive
Author: Barbara Dean Hendricks
Publisher:  Franklin Scribes Publishers, 2016
Ten master craftsmen, ten fascinating stories, one 486-page illustrated book about the unsung men and women working today to help preserve historic buildings. Barbara Dean Hendricks interviewed ten craftsmen in San Antonio to produce this book honoring “the creative souls who give us the plaster roses and wooden mantelpieces and iron hinges and hand-carved cabinets that make each building unique and noteworthy.” Many of these traditional building arts are in danger of disappearing, but her book aims to preserve, at least in print and photographs, these skills while inspiring a new generation.

2. Book:   DFW Deco: Modernistic Architecture of North Texas
Author: Jim Parsons and David Bush
Publisher:  TCU Press, 2017
Vivid imagery and original research are the hallmarks of DFW Deco: Modernistic Architecture of North Texas, the latest in Jim Parsons’ and David Bush’s series of books documenting Art Deco and Art Moderne design in the Lone Star State. DFW Deco examines a vibrant architectural heritage that spans legendary eras in American history from the Roaring Twenties to World War II.  Classic zigzag skyscrapers, Art Deco storefronts, and streamlined facilities for transportation and communications in the growing cities of North Texas all have a place in this book.…

3. Book:   Juan O’Gorman: A Confluence of Civilizations
Author: Catherine Nixon Cooke
Publisher:  Maverick Books/Trinity University Press, 2016
Mexican artist Juan O'Gorman was not only a painter, muralist, mosaic artist, critic and professor.  He was also an architect and a revolutionary, possibly most famous for his close friendship with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and as the designer of their two-house studio in Mexico City—Casa Azul—linked by a symbolic bridge.

Juan O'Gorman: A Confluence of Civilizations follows O'Gorman’s life and covers the creation of the spectacular public art piece he created for the 1968 World's Fair in San Antonio, Texas. His Confluence of Civilizations mural, which graces the exterior of today’s Lila Cockrell Theater, stands the test of time not just in vibrancy, but as one of the most influential works created by a Mexican artist.

4. Book:  The King William Area: A History and Guide to the Houses
Author:  Mary V. Burkholder and Jessie N.M. Simpson
Photographer: Al Rendon
Publisher:  The King William Association, 2017
For over forty years, historians, tourists and especially King William neighbors have relied on the 1970s edition of The King William Area for reference. This edition updates, corrects and expands the original, including exquisite color photography by Al Rendon. This narrative historical record tells the stories of the houses in the state’s oldest designated residential historic district: their beginnings, who built them, and something about the people who lived there throughout the years. The combined perspective of the authors of this volume spans almost 70 consecutive years of neighborhood history.…

5. Book:   The Material Culture of German Texans
Author: Kenneth Hafertepe
Publisher:  Texas A&M University Press, 2016
German immigrants of the nineteenth century left a distinctive mark on the lifestyles and vernacular architecture of Texas. In this first comprehensive survey of the art and artifacts of German Texans, Kenneth Hafertepe explores how their material culture was influenced by their European roots, how it was adapted to everyday life in Texas, and how it changed over time.

The Material Culture of German Texans is about the struggle to become American while maintaining a distinctive cultural identity drawn from German heritage.  Including materials from rural, small town and urban settings, this masterful study covers pioneer generations in East Texas and the Hill Country, but also follows the story into the Victorian era and the early twentieth century. Houses and their furnishings, churches and cemeteries, breweries and businesses, and paintings and engravings fill the pages of this thorough, informative and richly illustrated volume.…

6. Book:  Powering A City: How Energy and Big Dreams Transformed San Antonio
Author: Catherine Nixon Cooke
Publisher:  Maverick Books/Trinity University Press, 2017
At the center of San Antonio’s growth from a small pioneering town to a major western metropolis sits CPS Energy, the largest municipally owned energy utility in the United States. In Powering A City, Catherine Nixon Cooke discusses the transition from a small gas plant on San Pedro Creek, the impact of the Great Depression and World War II, and the emergence of nuclear energy and a nationally acclaimed model for harnessing solar and wind energy.   Images from CPS's archive of historic photographs, back issues of its in-house magazine, and the Institute of Texas Cultures provide rich material to illustrate the story.…

7. Book:  Saving San Antonio: The Preservation of a Heritage, Second Edition
Author: Lewis F. Fisher
Publisher: Maverick Books/Trinity University Press, 2016
Few American cities enjoy the likes of San Antonio's visual links with its dramatic past. The Alamo and four other Spanish missions, recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, are the most obvious. However, San Antonio's heritage has not been preserved by accident.

In this updated second edition, Texas historian Lewis Fisher peels back the myths surrounding more than a century of preservation triumphs and failures.   He reveals a lively mosaic that portrays the saving of San Antonio's cultural and architectural soul, while documenting the pioneering role that the San Antonio Conservation Society has played in this effort from 1924 through 2015.…

8. Book:  Sutherland Springs, Texas: Saratoga on the Cibolo
Author: Richard B. McCaslin
Publisher:  University of North Texas Press, 2017
Richard B. McCaslin explores the rise and fall of this rural community near San Antonio primarily through the lens of its aspirations to become a resort spa town because of its mineral water springs.

Texas real estate developers, initially more interested in oil, brought Sutherland Springs to its peak as a resort in the early twentieth century, but failed to transform the farming settlement into a resort town. The decline in water tables during the late twentieth century reduced the mineral water flows, and the town faded.  Sutherland Springs’s history thus provides great insights into the importance of water in shaping settlement. 

Beyond the story of the springs lies a history of the community and its people.  McCaslin provides a complete history of Sutherland Springs from early settlement through Civil War and into the twentieth century, including a complete history of the various settlers and owners of the springs and hotel.…

9. Book:  The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail, 1858-1861
Author: Glen Sample Ely
Publisher:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2016
This is the story of the antebellum frontier in Texas--from the Red River to El Paso--a raw and primitive country punctuated by chaos, lawlessness and violence. This is also the tale of the Butterfield Overland Mail, which carried passengers and mail west from St. Louis to San Francisco through Texas. While it operated, the transcontinental mail line intersected and influenced much of the region's frontier history.

Through meticulous research, including visits to all the sites he describes, Glen Sample Ely uncovers the fascinating story of the Butterfield Overland Mail in Texas.  As Ely shows, the Overland Mail Company and the U.S. Army jump-started growth, serving as both the economic engine and the advance agent for European American settlement. Used by soldiers, emigrants, freighters and stagecoaches, the Overland Mail Road was the nineteenth-century equivalent of the modern interstate highway system, stimulating passenger traffic, commercial freighting and business.…

10. Book:  The White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative in the Rock Art of The
Lower Pecos
Author: Carolyn E. Boyd with contributions by Kim Cox
Publisher:  The University of Texas Press, 2016
The prehistoric hunter-gatherers of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas and Coahuila, Mexico created some of the most spectacularly complex, colorful, extensive and enduring rock art of the ancient world. Perhaps the greatest of these masterpieces is the White Shaman mural, an intricate painting that spans some 26 feet in length and 13 feet in height on the wall of a shallow cave overlooking the Pecos River.

In The White Shaman Mural, Carolyn E. Boyd takes us on a journey of discovery as she builds a convincing case that the mural tells a story of the birth of the sun and the beginning of time—making it possibly the oldest pictorial creation narrative in North America.   Boyd identifies patterns in the imagery that equate to the mythologies of Uto-Aztecan-speaking peoples, including the ancient Aztec and the present-day Huichol. This paradigm-shifting identification of core Mesoamerican beliefs in the Pecos rock art reveals that a shared ideological universe was already firmly established among foragers living in the Lower Pecos region as long as 4,000 years ago.…\

11. Children’s Book: Lone Star Legacy: The Texas Rangers Then and Now
Author:   Melanie Chrismer
Publisher:   Pelican Publishing Company, 2016
Learn about the men behind the legendary star badge in this exciting new book for all ages. Texas native Melanie Chrismer takes readers through the 200-year-history of the Texas Rangers and the changes that took place in the state from the organization’s inception to its current incarnation. Emphasis is placed on the diversity of those who assisted the Rangers, including Native Americans, Texans of Mexican heritage, and African Americans, along with the newest addition—women rangers. Covering the creation of the Rangers as a response to territorial conflict, their role under the Republic, their defense against Mexican invaders, and their evolution during the twentieth century, Chrismer has created the perfect resource for the classroom.

Visit the Society website at for information and to register.